ECOs can occur anywhere and at any time. As Murphy’s Law dictates, the majority tend to occur in the weeks before tape-out. As a consequence, it’s imperative that designs have the accessible spare-resources and flexibility needed to reduce the burden of ECOs. What’s at stake is the potential for disastrous schedule over-runs, costly mask revisions, and de-featured products.

Unfortunately, current methodologies do very little to prepare designs for the many modifications needed throughout the design process to achieve P&R closure, achieve timing closure, resolve bugs, and accommodate late-state specification changes. Current methodologies tend to insert spare-resources using ad-hoc approaches or opportunistically after design-cells have been placed. These approaches are far too inadequate for today’s complex designs, complex methodologies, and tight time-to-market constraints.

For current methodologies, a hand-off gap between the RTL and layout teams leads to a mismatch between the need for spare-resources in RTL and the effective supply of spare-resources in layout. Parts of the design needing more spare-resources may end up with very few after layout.

Blackcomb-DA’s DECO-Advisor™ brings to the table radical design automation that optimizes flexibility (we call it “flexibility-margin”) throughout a design based on its logical and physical attributes while not impacting QoR. Barriers to adoption are surprisingly low as the impact to current methodologies is minimal and the learning-curve can easily be overcome. Informative violations are reported by DECO-Advisor™ both graphically and textually based on a set of intuitive design-rules to optimize design flexibility.

As a result of using DECO-Advisor™, a design has an optimal placement of spare-resources (spare-cells and/or gate-array fill) with better routing accessibility. The placement of spare-resources relative to where they are needed in the RTL is correct by construction. This leads to improved schedule predictability, a better overall design, and silicon success!